Welcome to ALL.

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The Decade of Obedience
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We are continuing our study of 1 John this morning, but I am going to cover yet another point in this little letter by approaching it from a different angle.

In case you have not noticed, I have given 3-4 messages on the nature of sin in the life of a believer. WHY?

Because eight times in this letter John seems to say that a true believer does not sin. My intention is to make sure we all think through this issue and hopefully better understand the biblical text on this point.

Interesting, because eight times in this letter John also gives a promise of forgiveness...

I think we tend to focus on the "acts" of sin we commit rather than on His forgiveness. I know this because I do it...and over the years I have heard others do it.

This morning I want to give you a different perspective on sin and I hope you can open your heart to hear this...and embrace it.

Our daily struggle with sinfulness is not as critical as having a heart that wants to obey God.

"Well sure, Al. But if you want to obey God, you won't sin."

This is the topic for my teaching this morning...because I am not sure I agree with that.

Listen to this parable of Jesus.
As with most parables, the first intended audience was the scribes and Pharisees - the ones who opposed Jesus:

There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, "Son, go and work in the vineyard today."

29 "No, I don't want to do that," he answered, yet later he changed his mind and went.

30 "Then the father went to the other son and told him the same thing. That son answered, "Yes sir, I will do it," but he did not go.

31 "Which of the two did what his father wanted?"
"The first," answered the scribes.

Then Jesus said to them, "Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.


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PRAYER
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We have several examples from scripture that illustrate my overall point this morning.

Moses
Sees and hears God in the flame of a burning bush...is called by God for one of the greatest confrontations in history. He leads the Israelites out of Egypt.

Elijah
One of the most prolific prophets of Israel. Most known for confronting the 450 prophets of Baal and having every single one of them executed.

King Saul
The mighty first king Israel, a giant of a man...a warrior.
Chosen by God to beat back the arch-enemy of Israel, the Philistines.

Each of these three men are examples of both following God...and failing Him.

And each of these, I think, illustrates something about our sinfulness...God's mercy...and what He is looking for.

Moses, in the heat of anger and revenge, killed a man and hid the body, then fled.
Yet God called him to lead Israel out of Egypt.

God does amazing things through Moses...we could spend a month of Sundays covering it...

In one moment God tells Moses to speak to a rock and God would make water come out from it when the Israelites desperately needed water.

But Moses, with that flare of anger [perhaps like what he felt when he killed the Egyptian] hit the rock...and God said,
Because you did not trust in me enough...you will not lead these people into the land I will give them.

Elijah is sent by God to confront Ahab...
He has the great victory against the prophets of Baal and God intends for Elijah to speak face to face against both Ahab and his wife Jezebel, who is pulling the strings of power behind the scenes.

But Jezebel threatens to kill Elijah...and in fear, Elijah runs away.
He has what we think was a majestic moment on the mountain...

God reveals His greatness through a tornado, then an earthquake...then a prarie fire...then Elijah hears a still, small voice and it overwhelms him.

Then he hears a more audible voice say, "What are you doing here?"

He had run from Jezebel. The quiet whisper of a voice probably said something to him like,
"Why did you run from this king and his wife?"

God then gives Elijah his final commission: he is to anoint two different men to become kings, then anoint Elisha to take his place as THE prophet.

He failed to obey God's direct command to confront Ahab and Jezebel and his time as THE prophet comes to an end.

Saul was made king of Israel and was doing what God had anointed him to do...then Samuel specifically told him to attack and totally destroy the Amalekites...kill everything men, women, children, goats, sheep, cattle...everything that breathes.

We find this brutal, but this was the common practice in the ancient world...it was a tough place.

Nonetheless, Saul fails to kill everything and saves the king (probably hoping the king would offer his hidden gold and silver to Saul) and he wants to keep the best livestock for himself.

Listen to the famous text, what Samuel says to him because of this,
Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice...
disobedience is like the sin of witchcraft...


In the military every soldier takes an oath to support and defend the Constitution, obey the orders of the President and all officers over him/her and to follow the regulations in the Uniform Code of Military Justice [UCMJ].

Soldiers violate the UCMJ all the time.

Sometimes they forget...sometimes it is by accident...sometimes they violate one regulation because they are following an order and it seems impossible to follow without breaking a regulation.

Breaking a "reg," as they say, is usually not a big deal.

They might get yelled at...or get "written up," but this is really not a big deal.

However, failure to obey a direct order from an officer can get you into more serious trouble...you are FAR more likely to face a court-marshal for going against a direct order. It depends on the circumstances...

But my point is simple: generally speaking...disobeying a direct order, especially in an intense moment, is far more serious than breaking a regulation.

Now, back to our spiritual lesson for today.
God wants us to live under His laws, but laws our the basic guidelines for life.

But the scriptures don't really give us His directives?

In a very general sense...yes.
But not specific directives.

God is looking for people who desperately want to follow Him...to hear His voice...and to do what He tells them.

"The eyes of the Lord search diligently across the earth to show Himself strong to those who faithfully obey Him."

Now the way He speaks is different from person to person...and often different to the same person.

It is not always easy to hear His voice and not always easy to know exactly HOW we are supposed to obey.

But this is what I feel 100% confident to teach you:
1. We ALL fail more than we realize. If God were to show up in His majestic glory...in His perfection...we would be totally overwhelmed by our lack and we would see our sinfulness so clearly that we would want to die.

We fail Him in so many ways.

2. BUT...He knows this
Our sinfulness does not take Him by surprise.

And He ALWAYS forgives when we simply come to Him and admit our sins and failures.

Yes, God is an all-consuming fire...
But His mercy is new "every single morning."
Brand spankin' new...never been used.

3. He wants to speak to you.
Yes, He wants you THAT close...He is not bothered by your sinfulness and failures - Jesus was the friend of sinners.

He wants to trust you.
He wants to know that He can ask you to do something...
- like reach out to somebody and speak a kind word
- like be generous to someone when you know they have a need
- like call somebody in this church when they seem to jump into your mind during the day...just to ask if they are ok

Stop worrying about HOW God might speak...and just start listening.
And make up your mind that you will act on the smallest thing that comes to you just in case God has spoken.

Most of the time when I think God has asked me to do something it's not a BIG thing...and if I'm wrong it's not going to cause the world to end.

But as you prove to Him that you WILL obey His directives...
He is going to speak more often...more clearly...
And give you directives that are more important...
And you will find yourself closer to Him than you have ever been.

Would He like you to stop sinning? Sure.
But He knows that is a lifetime marathon race.

He is more interested in the heart that aches to know Him...
...that wants to hear Him...
...and is willing to simply do what He asks.

This is the year...
This is YOUR decade...
Make up your mind...settle your heart...
And do it.

LET'S PRAY

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Troy Community Church
Christian Fellowship
1300 Henderson Highway
Troy, AL 36079